In western St. Louis County, between Wildwood and Eureka, an unassuming limestone quarry is a beacon for local climbers.
The rock in Rockwoods Reserve is one of the closest sites to St. Louis for outdoor rock climbing. A day of climbing here, accompanied by a meal at Wolf’s Cafeis an ideal way for outdoor enthusiasts and environmentally conscious diners to spend a weekend.
Rockwoods Reservation is the first – and only – rock managed by the Missouri Department of Conversation. In partnership with the local non-profit BETA Fund, the site was opened to the public in November. This rock is ideal for beginner climbers or those new to outdoor climbing. it has 15 courses, all of novice or intermediate difficulty.
“It provides easy access for people who have never been outdoors and are less likely to drive the minimum of an hour and a half to climb otherwise,” says local climber Josh Farmer.
If hiking is more your pace, the reserve also offers 21 km of scenic trails.
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After an active day outdoors, climbers and hikers can head to the nearby Wolf Cafe to refuel. This restaurant offers a variety of healthy yet hearty sandwiches and salads with ingredients sourced from local farms and producers. Sustainability is at the heart of the cafe, which is a certified member of the Green Dining Alliance.
“By taking responsibility for the customer and the restaurant’s waste, we are able to control it,” agree owners Bob and Denise Biribin. “Everyone who works at The Wolf is trained and learned the importance, and they want to do it.”
The coffee ethic also fit well with the spirit of climbing. America’s premier climbing organization, the American Alpine Club, works to protect and preserve public lands and fight climate change. As outdoor enthusiasts seek to respect and appreciate the land through recreation, they can do the same through their food at Wolf Cafe.
The cafe’s menu is diverse enough to appeal to a wide variety of groups. Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., stop in for a pre-climb coffee and buckwheat pancakes, or pop in after a long day out for a BLT salmon or homemade black bean burger. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diners will also be delighted with the variety of menu options available; Avocado Salad with Mesclun, Smashed Avocado, Pepitas, Chilli Roasted Chickpeas, Pickled Peppers, Feta Cheese, and Honey Lime Vinaigrette is a tasty and hearty vegetarian dish. For those looking for a sweet treat, Wolf Cafe’s extensive dessert menu that includes brownies, apple pie bars and coconut cake won’t disappoint.
As rock climbing continues to grow in popularity in the area — the St. Louis Climbers Facebook group now has more than 1,100 members — restaurants and bars near boulders such as Rockwoods Reservation will likely see a new clientele. Establishments like The Wolf Cafe allow environmental enthusiasts to feel good about the food they consume.
Rockwoods Reservation, mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/rockwoods-reservation
The Wolf Cafe, 15480 Clayton Road, Ballwin, MO, 363.527.7027, thewolfstl.com